Adaptable and hardy, Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes widely

From its beginnings as a spontaneous and entirely natural cross fertilization of the white grape Sauvignon Blanc and the red Cabernet Franc that occurred in the Bordeaux region of southwest France in the 17th century, Cabernet Sauvignon has become the most widely planted premium red wine grape in the world.

Adaptable and exceptionally hardy, the vines flourish wherever wine grapes can grow. The deeply coloured and intensely flavoured red wines that Cabernet Sauvignon routinely produces are instantly recognizable for their aromas of blackcurrant fruit and fresh-cut green pepper and the sturdy ‘grip’ of tannins.

Better known for red wines made from Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano, Spain’s renowned Vega Sicilia has incorporated some Cabernet Sauvignon since the vines were brought from Bordeaux by founder Don Eloy Lecanda y Chaves in 1864.

From J.G.Carrion – the largest wine producer in Europe – Opera Prima Cabernet Sauvignon $11.99 is a jammy, juicy, fruity red overflowing with a medley of strawberry and blackberry flavours and a sprinkling of blackcurrants. Not quite ‘dry’, this medium bodied red from sunny La Mancha vineyards is easy to appreciate with or without food.

The reinvention of the South African wine industry in the 1990’s continues. Isolated from the rest of the wine world by international trade embargoes, Pinotage was once the dominant red wine grape. Today Cabernet Sauvignon has emerged as the first choice of winemakers looking at export markets.

Rich and ripe without being jammy, Flagstone ‘Poetry’ Cabernet Sauvignon $12.99 entices the nose and taste buds with aromas and flavours of ripe black plums and blackcurrants. As it opens up in the glass, wisps of mocha, mint, oregano and earthy pepper add complexity.

For the last 20 years Cabernet Sauvignon has come to dominate Chile’s Maipo Valley.

The vineyards and winery of Viña Pérez Cruz are in the Maipo Alta – at altitudes of 400-750 meters above sea level where warm sunny days are followed by cooler nights, slowing ripening and retaining bright acidity in the grapes.

The workhorse of the winery Pérez Cruz Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon $16.99 was awarded 95/100 points by the UK’s Decanter magazine. A blend of 94 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 4 percent Carmenere and 2 percent Cabernet Franc, it opens with classic black cherry and blackcurrant notes that lift and linger into a minty finish with a twist of spicy, smoky oak.

Israel’s Upper Galilee has featured vineyards since biblical times. Modern winemaking can be traced to the influence of Baron Edmond de Rothschild, owner of the Bordeaux estate Château Lafite-Rothschild, who imported vines from France in the 1880s. Today there are more than 300 wineries.

From those vineyards in the Upper Galilee, Galil Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon $19.99 adds raspberry and jammy blueberry to the expected flavors of black cherry and ripe plum, with hints of stewed prunes and molasses, sage, mint and fresh cut tobacco leaf.

Outside of Chile’s Maipo Valley, no ‘New World’ wine region can consistently grow and make great Cabernet Sauvignon like California. Big bucks, high-tech winemaking and obsessive compulsive attention to best vineyard practices come together in the ultra-deluxe Napa Valley Cabernets but there are excellent affordable examples from other sub-regions.

Out of the Livermore Valley east of San Francisco, Wente ‘Southern Hills’ Cabernet Sauvignon $21.99 is a masterful blend of 76 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 8 percent Malbec, 8 percent Petite Sirah, 6 percent Petit Verdot and 2 percent Merlot. Black cherry, blackberry, blackcurrant and cranberry aromas and flavours finish in wisps of earthy black pepper, coffee and cedar.

Here, in British Columbia, Cabernet Sauvignon vines do best in the south Okanagan, in the arid – until irrigated – desert.

Black Sage Rd runs from Oliver south to Osoyoos, east of Hwy 97. Vineyards along this route share deep sandy soil and long sunny days.

Recently awarded the distinction of Winery of the Year at the 2019 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada. for the fifth time, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery has a history of innovation and excellence. Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $36.99 is a blend of grapes grown in two desert vineyards. Fully ripe, 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, it showcases a medley of blue and black fruit flavours, sage, thyme and anise, dark chocolate and coffee.